This is Ann’s mom Sally. Andy, Sarah, and I had a great phone conversation with Ann and Nathan today—the day after Christmas. We tried calling on Christmas Day but could never get through. Ann reported that phone calls were half price in Togo on Christmas Day, so the phone lines were busier than usual.
Friends Rachel and Pierre, and their four children, came to Ann and Nathan’s house for Christmas Eve dinner. Rachel cooked a dinner of pounded yams with a green leaf sauce, while Ann and Nathan provided a treat of Crystal Lite and sugar cookies. The children were delighted with the treat of cookies and lemonade. Ann says that the children showed their pleasure by standing and clapping their hands.
For Christmas, Ann and Nathan decorated a small baobab tree outside their house with construction paper ornaments. On Christmas morning, they shared homemade cards that they had made for each other and enjoyed a breakfast of hot chocolate and oatmeal. Villagers invited them to their house for lunch, and Ann says that they were served homemade tofu, spaghetti with a red sauce, and rice with peanut sauce. Later they went to the village Christmas dance. I asked Ann, if she and Nathan had danced. Ann explained, “Mom, this is a tribal dance, not a middle school dance.” According to Ann, the villagers did encourage Ann and Nathan to join the dance, but at this point, they are more comfortable sitting and watching.
Ann will begin lessons with a French tutor tomorrow. Her tutor teaches English at the middle school and lives close enough for Ann to ride her bike to lessons. On January 5, Ann will teach her first English class. Ann now thinks that she will have 97 students! That is 3 students for each desk in the classroom.
Nathan, meanwhile, has been busy with his rabbits. Nathan bought 3 rabbits, which soon became 5 rabbits. One of the rabbits has just had 8 babies. The mother rabbit has hidden her babies in a large clay jar. Ann says that she can’t pat the baby rabbits, until the mother lets them out of the jar. Ann and Nathan will have to tell us more about the rabbits on their blogs, but my understanding is that the rabbits will be shared with village families, so that they too can raise rabbits to eat and to sell.
Ann and Nathan are excited that their new puppy will arrive at long last next week. They have decided to name the dog Asher. According to Nathan, Asher is the masculine form of the word Asheville! Asher’s brother is coming to live with Pierre and Rachel, which means that Asher will have a playmate.
December has been very hot in Togo. Daytime temperatures of 120 degrees are not unusual, and at night, the temperature seldom goes below 80 degrees. But while Ann and Nathan did not have a white Christmas, they did enjoy a bit cooler weather. Ann said that it was 70 degrees this morning. She had to put on a sweater!
Ann and Nathan are off to Kara on December 30 for a short vacation. They will spend Tuesday through Thursday nights in Kara. Ann said that they are both ready for ice cream and good food! Both are also looking forward to internet access.
Many thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers for Ann and Nathan this Christmas season. Thanks, too, for your letters and packages. Just a reminder--if you send a package, a great option is to use the “Flat Rate Box” for “domestic and international use”, which you can pick up at the post office. The box itself is free, and you can fill it and then send it for a flat rate of $38. The box has a high weight limit, and $38 is much cheaper than the cost of sending many other kinds of parcels. As for what to put in the box, Ann and Nathan are grateful for all sorts of items, including magazines, paperback books, energy bars, dog treats, instant beverages and sauces, hard candy, nuts, school supplies, and stickers.
Happy 2009 to all of you!